Green Bay Packers: Ranking Ted Thompson’s Draft Classes

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: General manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers looks on after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: General manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers looks on after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Now that Ted Thompson has been retired for a few years, let’s take a look at his draft history as I rank each of his draft classes for the Green Bay Packers.

Ted Thompson’s decisions as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers were often criticized by faithful Packer fans, but Thompson built a team that was consistently competitive from the late 2000s to the mid-2010s.

Thompson put his name out there as a linebacker with the Houston Oilers. He stepped away from the game for a bit before accepting a scouting position with the Packers under former GM Ron Wolf. Thompson followed Mike Holmgren to the Seahawks but returned to Green Bay when the Packers offered him the GM position.

What followed was a thirteen-year reign that resulted in one Super Bowl win and eight straight playoff appearances from 2009-2016. Thompson built his team under a “draft and develop” mentality.

That concept was successful for almost a decade but fell apart when Thompson stopped re-signing his talented players. That left Thompson dependent on his draft selections. Frankly, it came across as arrogant.

However, undrafted free agents always played a big role in Thompson’s teams, but this article applies only to drafted players… sorry. This article also gets a bit nerdy as well.

But before we dive into each of Thompson’s draft classes, below is my grading criteria and how I evaluated each group.

Every draft class is graded by the impact of the players selected. All players are given an individual score that is added to a total for the draft class and averaged by the number of players selected. The scoring for every player follows a simple algorithm.

Players score 1.5 points for completing their first contract and the same for completing their second (players currently on their second contract are designated the same points and players still on their first contract get points for completing it). Both playing a game and starting in a game, each score 0.1 per game.

Pro Bowl invitations, All-Pro nominations, and MVP awards each earn 3 points per. Rookie of the year awards are given 1 point. After the total score per player is calculated, they are added together to create a total score for the class, which is then averaged.

The younger draft classes that haven’t had the opportunity to score as much are given a 25 percent bonus for every player still on the roster. Not perfect, but it’s still better than nothing.

Now, let’s get to the fun part.

1. 2009  (16.2 points per player)

Thompson’s best draft class took place in 2009. BJ Raji, Clay Matthews III, and TJ Lang were Thompson’s first three selections of this class and are some of his best picks. Linebacker Brad Jones was the highest rated 7th round pick of Thompson’s career, with a score of 12.7.

Raji chose to cut his career short after the 2015 season but still scored as the 15th best player of Thompson’s draft picks with a score of 22.9. As the 9th overall selection in 2009, Raji lived up to expectations. He was an integral piece of the Green Bay Packers’ run in the early 2010s and was a Pro Bowl nominee in 2011.

Matthew was selected 26th overall and is the second-best Packer to be selected during Thompson’s tenure. His six Pro-bowls and two All-pro nominations led to a score of 55. Matthews is one of the best edge rushers in Packers history and is still my mom’s favorite player.

Lang ranks as Thompson’s 8th best selection. He was selected in the fourth round but holds a score of 30.3. Lang started at guard for seven of his eight years with the Packers and was invited to two Pro Bowls.

Thompson’s 2009 class scored an average of 16.2 per player but was outscored overall by his very first draft class in 2005.

2. 2005 (15.16 points per player)

Thompson started his career as the Green Bay Packers GM on a high note. His first two draft selections were both slam dunks. Aaron Rodgers ranked as the best of Thompson’s draft picks, while Nick Collins ranks fifth.

Thompson selected Rodgers 24th overall in 2005, and while Rodgers sat for a bit, he is now considered one of the best players in the league. His eight Pro-Bowls, three All-Pro nominations, and two MVP awards serve as proof. Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer when he chooses to hang it up, and his score of 77.5 leads the rest of Thompson’s picks by a wide margin.

Collins was the 51st overall selection and started every game of his career until he suffered a neck injury in 2011. Collins was on pace for a Hall of Fame career, having been selected to the All-pro roster from 2008-2010. Even though he only played six years, he was still inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame.

Just like the 2005 draft class, Thompson’s 2010 class contained one of the best Packers’ safeties of the common era

3. 2010 (14.6 points per player)

Morgan Burnett wasn’t drafted to be Collins’ replacement, but he ran with the role when called upon. Like Collins, Burnett started every game for the Green Bay Packers, until he was traded. Out of all of Thompson’s draft picks, he ranked as the14th overall player, which is great value for a 3rd rounder.

Bryan Bulaga was Thompson’s first-round pick in 2010, and he is the 11th best Packer during the Thompson era. Bulaga was often criticized for his lack of durability, but he was a proven starter for the Packers during his ten-year stint. Through two full contracts with the Packers, Bulaga was never invited to the Pro Bowl.

Mike Neal, Andrew Quarless, and James Starks provided three supporting cast members to the 2010 class, much like Thompson’s 2016 draft class.

4. 2016 (14.55 points per player)

Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez, and Dean Lowry helped prop up the 2016 class, but Kenny Clark is the main reason this class comes in at 4th place.

Clark has started three of his four seasons with the Packers and was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl last year. He’s an ascending talent in the NFL and will play a big role in the future of the Green Bay Packers. Clark and Lowry are the only players from the 2016 draft class that are still on the roster.

5. 2014 (12.71 points per player)

Like the 2016 class, the 2014 draft class has two players that are still on the roster, and they’re two of the best players on the Packers’ offense.

Davante Adams, selected 53rd overall, is the 9th best out of all of Thompson’s draft picks. Adams has been selected to three Pro-Bowls and is on his second contract, looking to score a third soon.

Corey Linsley has started 86 games at center, missing only nine games in his six-year career. Having never been invited to a Pro-Bowl, Linsley still ranks as the 19th best Packer to be drafted by Ted Thompson.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ranks just ahead of Linsley at 18th. Dix was invited to one Pro Bowl, and like Collins and Burnett before him, he started every game at safety for the Packers before being traded during his fifth-year option.

6. 2008 (12.13 points per players)

The 2008 draft class may not have the same depth as the 2014 class, but it does have two of the most decorated offensive players to be drafted by Ted Thompson.

Jordy Nelson was selected by Thompson in the second round of the 2008 draft class. As Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, Jordy went on to exceed expectations and ranks 6th overall out of Thompson’s draft picks.

Josh Sitton was selected in the fourth round and ranks as the third-best pick by Thompson, with a score of 47.3. Sitton started 112 games at guard for the Packers and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times, along with three All-Pro nominations.

7. 2006 (9.95 points per player)

Thompson’s 2006 draft class had a great overall score of 119.4 but also contained the most picks of any of Thompson’s draft classes with twelve. Most of those picks failed, but the first three picks in that class turned out to be solid contributors.

AJ Hawk looked like a perennial Pro Bowler out of Ohio St, which is why he was selected 5th overall by Thompson in 2006. He never quite lived up to the hype but was a solid linebacker for the Green Bay Packers for nine years, starting 136 games over that period, which ranks him 7th on the list of Thompson selections.

Daryn Colledge was the second-round pick in 2006 and started 76 games at guard for the Packers. He was solid enough to be ranked as the 21st most productive player over Thompson’s tenure.

Greg Jennings was the following pick, and his career was successful enough to place him 10th overall of Thompson’s draft picks. Jennings “suffered” through two contracts with the Packers and earned two Pro Bowl invitations

8. 2013 (9.69 points per player)

Datone Jones was one of Thompson’s least productive first-round selections, but this class managed to be average on the shoulders of two performers.

Eddie Lacy had a short career that may not be considered great by most, but he won offensive rookie of the year and was invited to the Pro Bowl the same year. However, he never built on that production. His shortened career netted him a score of 18.9, the 20th best score of any Thompson pick.

David Bakhtiari was the fourth-round pick in the 2013 class and ranks as the fourth most productive player drafted by Ted Thompson. Bakhtiari has started 106 games in his eight-year career and is approaching the end of his second contract. He’s a four-time All-Pro selection and a two-time Pro-Bowler.

9. 2007 (7.98 points per player)

Thompson’s 2007 draft class is another one floated by two players.

James Jones was drafted 78th overall and played well through both of his contracts. Jones never earned a Pro Bowl selection, but he played in 120 games for the Packers, which helped him earn the 17th best score of 21.2.

Mason Crosby wasn’t invited to a Pro Bowl either, but he played in 208 games for the Packers. He’s the all-time leading scorer of the franchise, and he is tied for the 12th best Thompson selection with a score of 23.8. He’s also the highest-rated 6th rounder of Thompson’s tenure.

10. 2017 (6.88 points per player)

The real impact of the 2017 class is hard to judge right now, but one thing is for certain, Aaron Jones was screwed out of a Pro Bowl invitation last year. That invite would’ve netted this class more points, but the class gets a raise for being full of a bunch of young bucks (four players still on roster net this draft class a bonus on the overall score). But overall, this class hasn’t accomplished much.

However, Aaron Jones, Kevin King, and Jamaal Williams have made huge impacts on the Packers’ recent successes. All their futures are up in the air, but there’s plenty of cause for excitement.

11. 2012 (6.3 points per player)

The Green Bay Packers no longer employ any selection from the 2012 draft class, but there are two players that made a real impact

Although Nick Perry was the 28th overall pick in 2012, he didn’t impact the game much outside of one season. Perry was signed to a second contract, but he didn’t live up to it and was consequently released. He started 48 games but didn’t live up to expectations.

Mike Daniels was just a fourth-round pick but was much more successful. Daniels started 72 games and has one Pro Bowl invitation. It all led to a ranking of 16 for Daniels. He may not have completed his second contract with the Packers, but there’s a chance that he’s asked to come back to Green Bay.

12. 2011 (4.7 points per player)

If not for Randall Cobb, this may have been Thompson’s worst draft class. Cobb played through his first two contracts with the Green Bay Packers and was invited to the Pro Bowl in 2014, which led to him being tied for 12th with 23.8 points as a Thompson draft pick.

Justin Harrell was the 1st rounder in this class, and that’s the end of that conversation. The only other player of note from this class is Davon House, who accomplished more in his second stint with the Packers.

13. 2015 (4.35 points per player)

The 2015 class contains zero players of note unless you wanna talk about disappointments like Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. Ty Montgomery had his time, but nobody from this class accomplished anything… Let’s put this one to bed.

Next. CB Could Be a Big Need Again Next April. dark

It’s clear that Thompson’s draft success dropped off in the back half of his career, which likely led to the Packers’ struggles during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Thompson ended his career as a senior advisor with the Packers. He’s since retired and been diagnosed with autonomic disorder, which is a disease that affects the nervous system and, subsequently, every other system.

Given it all, Thompson goes down as one of the best executives the Green Bay Packers have ever employed. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame last year and left the Packers with a lot to be excited about.

Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, Davante Adams, Kenny Clark, and Aaron Jones provide us with all the proof he needs. Thompson’s methods may have been controversial at the time, but the results speak for themselves.

Thompson made moves that fans didn’t like, but he was true to himself, his method, and his team. Ted Thompson will go down with the best Green Bay Packers execs, and he’s earned it.